I continued my series of lunches with Dune director David Lynch. It felt like I just couldn’t connect with him. It wasn’t his personality; David’s a very nice guy. It just seemed like we shared almost nothing in common.
One day, as our lunch ended, David lit up.
“The Boys!“ he exclaimed. “Bill, you haven’t met The Boys!”
David stood up.
“Let’s go meet them!”
I followed David across the lot to his office. He unlocked his door, and with a grand flourish, he swung the door open.
“Bill, meet — The Boys!”
On David’s sofa facing me and the door were six identical Woody Woodpecker dolls.
David introduced us.
“That’s Biff, Larry, Fred, Hank, Sam and Chewie (I don’t recall the actual names he had for each one; these six I made up are similar and will suffice). Boys, meet Bill!”
What in the hell does one say in that situation? I’m a T-shirt-and-jeans kinda guy, not used to such mental shenanigans.
I’m still mystified by that encounter.
Estudios Churubusco was a lot looser than the studios I worked in Stateside. Part of the studio contained a collection of wild animals that were available for the films being made there. I loved visiting that part of the studio, getting to see these creatures up close. None of them seemed to be trained; they all seemed like they were still wild. But one had to be careful. Unlike the United States, in Mexico you’re responsible for the stupid things you do. If you get hurt, bitten or mauled, it’s your own damn fault — you don’t try to sue somebody. I kinda liked that: being responsible for one’s own actions.
I was delighted to see a kinkajou. I explained to British art director Kevin Phipps, whom I had brought to see the animals, that I had heard kinkajous make good pets. After hearing that, he approached the cute little critter — and it bit him.
One day production designer Pierluigi Basile and I heard that the animal section of Churubusco had a big tiger. We walked over to see the tiger, which was chained to a large tree. After a few minutes, I noticed something really scary. There was a helluva lot of zigzagging slack in that tiger’s chain — so much so that there was nothing to really keep the tiger from leaping and attacking us. I pointed this out to Piero.
“Piero…We need to slowly back away from the tiger. DO NOT turn your back to the tiger. That will automatically trigger an attack response.”
Watching the huge tiger watching us, we slowly backed up until we were out of range of the big cat.
I learned later that same tiger had attacked and killed a few careless workers over the past few months. Lawsuits? Naw…If the Churubusco tiger got you, it was your own damn fault.